Miranda Lambert: The Billboard Cover Story
Miranda Lambert: The Billboard Cover Story

"The House That Built Me" helped Miranda Lambert quickly match her win total from last year's Academy of Country Music awards on Sunday night, while Lady Antebellum took home three trophies, including as artist and producer on album of the year "Need You Now."

The two acts, who are the best of friends, celebrated on stage after Lambert, winner of last year's album of the year award for "Revolution," announced the winner.

"Thank you, Miranda Lambert, for winning this last year and not being in the category this year," Lady A's Charles Kelley said.

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They were named vocal group of the year a few moments later.

"The House That Built Me," written by Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas, won song, single record and video of the year Sunday night. It mirrors a difficult time in Lambert's life, but those times are over and the song has helped Lambert's star rise to new heights. It helped her win the Grammy for best female country performance and it also won Country Music Association's song of the year award as well.

"Allen and Tom," Lambert said after winning single record, "thank you for writing the song of the year."

The Band Perry claimed the best new artist award moments after singing their hit "If I Die Young." It was the trio of two brothers and one sister's second win after taking home top new vocal duo or group before the awards. They were competing with Eric Church for top new artist.

Zac Brown Band, up for five awards, took home vocal event of the year with Alan Jackson for their collaboration on "As She's Walking Away."

Brad Paisley kicked off the ACMs with a little help from friends: Three members of the iconic group Alabama joined Paisley on his new song "Old Alabama," bringing the crowd at the MGM Grand to its feet Sunday night. It was one of several big collaborations scheduled for the night. Moments later, Steven Tyler and Carrie Underwood rocked out to "Undo It" then segued to the Aerosmith classic "Walk This Way."

Rihanna, sporting a flaming orange pixie haircut, appeared to perform her song "California King Bed" with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles.

The show opened with co-host Blake Shelton singing a slow song to what appeared to Lambert, his fiance. But as the camera panned in on a blonde draped over a couch, it revealed the show's other co-host, Reba McEntire in a blonde wig.

"All right, Blake," she said, "that's enough rehearsing for your wedding night. We've got a show to do. Focus!"

Lambert was the night's top solo nominee with seven. She was still up for entertainer of the year, the most prestigious award, and with fans voting for it, it's especially hard to predict. Neither Carrie Underwood nor Kenny Chesney - winners of the last six entertainer awards - are nominated this year. And only Toby Keith, a nominee and two-time winner, has taken home the ACM's top award. Paisley, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban have won the competing Country Music Association artist of the year awards, but have yet to breakthrough in Sin City. Jason Aldean, like Lambert a rising star, also is a first-time nominee.


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